Trump visa suspensions could cost US economy $223 million
Posted on Jul 2, 2020 by Callan Quinn
The Trump administration’s suspension of H-1B, H-2B, L and some J non-immigrant visa categories
could cost the US economy more than $223 million and 7,000 jobs, according to the Alliance for
In a letter to the administration signed by over 800 businesses and organisations, the AIE said the move
will “very likely lead to an increase in layoffs among program sponsors and their host partners in the US,
which will have a negative ripple effect throughout [the] economy”.
“In addition, host families may be unable to return to work without necessary childcare,” it added.
“In effect, the presidential proclamation will cost, not save, American jobs.”
Deniz Akar, managing director of Turkey-based Global Visions, had 1,000 students signed up to take
part in work and travel programs in the US in 2020.
So far, only 100 have gone – those who had visas before the Covid-19 outbreak – and most are
choosing to wait until next year.
“If [the ban] was because of Covid-19 students could understand, but to ban cultural exchange
programs because of jobs doesn’t make sense. They aren’t taking jobs from US people,” Akar told The
“A big concern among students and agents is that it’s going to be extended. For the US, these programs
are very important for cultural exchange. If they extend it they are going to lose their reputation around
the world with young people.”
In Trump’s proclamation restricting the visas until the end of this year, he cited unemployment and the
impact that non-immigrant workers would have on the availability of jobs for US citizens, adding that
“temporary workers are often accompanied by their spouses and children, many of whom also compete
against American workers”.
However, many organisations involved in cultural exchange programs such as au pairing and summer
camps question why they have been included in this considering their participants are usually
university-educated youth staying in the US short-term without dependants.
“A vast majority of Exchange Visitor Program participants cite cultural exchange as the primary factor for
taking part in the program,” noted AIE.
“75%of cultural exchange participants, on average, developed a more positive opinion of the US after
their program experience.”
The immediate impact of the ruling may be limited – with embassies and visa centres still shut and travel
restrictions in place participants couldn’t have done their programs anyway – but stakeholders told The
PIE they worry that the country’s reputation among young people overseas will needlessly suffer.
Akar noted that studying in countries like Canada and Ireland, where studying comes with work rights,
are becoming popular options for students.
Au Pair in America , which is now unable to hire overseas au pairs, has started an online campaign to
“save J1 visas”.
“We remain hopeful that if the order is modified or when the order expires, embassies around the world
will have fully reopened and other travel restrictions will have lifted and program operations can resume
quickly,” Au Pair in America said in a statement.
Language schools and bilingual education programs may also be hit with staff shortages. Local media in
Utah, where public schools run around 200 dual language immersion programs, noted that each year the
state hires 60-70 native-speaking teachers from countries like China, Brazil, Germany and Peru to staff
these programs on J1 visas.
“This doesn’t directly affect us since most students will enter on F1 visas but the noise around the
potential suspension of OPT is unsettling especially when viewed against a wider global policy context,”
noted Tim O’Brien, SVP new partner development and INTO University Partnerships.
“Canada and the UK both confirmed post-study work privileges for students who begin their programs
online, and there was an announcement from the UK government on three year post-study work visas
for STEM PhD students.”
Whether OPT will be impacted in future legislation is unclear, although the AIE told The PIE that they had
“heard reports that the administration may curtail Optional Practical Training through the regulatory
As of July 6, the US has ruled that wholly-online study from September will not be permissible for
international students, in new SEVP guidance that has caused shock and consternation in the sector.